What to do if you have a raccoon

RACCOONS

If you are dealing with raccoons in your yard, trapping may seem like a quick and simple solution to the problem.  But, as with many wild animals, if you remove one, you often open up territory for another raccoon or even a different animal to move in. The best way to approach this problem is to look at it from the raccoon’s point of view.  Your home is in his territory.  If he’s choosing your yard/home to stay in you are doing something right, at least for the raccoon!  Accessible trashcans are a buffet, dog/cat food left outside is a fast food snack, and brush or a chimney without a cap can offer them the abode they want.

Raccoons (like most wild animals) are looking for three main things: food, water, and shelter/denning sources. Remove these 3 necessities and most likely the pesky animals will move on. 

So, let’s look at possible ways of removing these necessities:

  1. Secure all trash cans with tight lids and bungee cords.  It helps to rinse them out occasionally to remove the attracting odors.
  2. Do not leave any pet bowls, food and/or water, outside overnight.  Bring them in as soon as your pet is finished eating.
  3. If you have a bird feeder, equip it with a baffle, or switch to a raccoon proof bird feeder.
  4. Also, with bird feeders, clean up the ground around the bird feeder or use a seed catcher.
  5. Don’t leave water in a bird bath overnight.
  6. Clean your grill and surrounding area after use.
  7. Remove any other outside food sources, raccoons are not picky eaters.
  8. Clean up brush and keep firewood stacked at least 12 inches off the ground, as these areas can attract food sources (bugs, mice, etc.) for the raccoons.

Deterrents work best when the 3 necessities, food, water, and shelter are removed. Some examples are:

*Mint:  You can use a mint spray on your trash bag or buy mint scented trash bags.

*Cayenne Pepper:  Can be sprinkled in areas of known raccoon activity (reapply after a rain or watering)

*Electronic water repellent:  This motion activated sprinkler can be purchased at local hardware stores.

*Motion sensor lights:  Motion sensor lights can also be purchased at local hardware stores.

When it comes to raccoon dens,raccoons are quite adaptable.  They aren’t looking to make their own den, but finding an abode that’s ready to go.  Generally, raccoons have many dens within their territory and move to a new den every night or two.  If they are spending several nights, it is possibly a momma raccoon with her babies.

If an opportunity exists, raccoons will welcome themselves inside your house.  To keep them out of your house inspect the outside of your home for any possible entries, even small entries, and fix them immediately.  Raccoons can squeeze through holes much smaller than you would think.  Some areas to check:

1.      Roof flashing                                                 5.   Behind gutters

2.      Rotting fascia                                                 6.   Vents on roof

3.      Check for secure chimney cap                       7.   Tears in vent screens

4.      Close cat/doggie doors at night

Additional measures: 

  • Keep tree limbs trimmed back from your house at least 10 feet
  • Trim low hanging bushes at least 12 inches off the ground
  • Another area that may be used for a den is the under the deck or porch. Enclosing it with hardware wire or lattice would be beneficial

If you see a sick or injured raccoon or have raccoons in your house contact Animal Control at 816-690-3773 x1006.  Sometimes a wildlife pest control can/must be used.